Dish to FCC: XO acquisition will give Verizon 5G advantage
Verizon 5G plans could be bolstered by 39 GHz spectrum
The pending Verizon Communications acquisition of XO Communications has drawn the ire of satellite-TV provider Dish Network, which in a Federal Communications Commission filing claims the deal will give Verizon an unfair advantage as “5G” takes shape.
In February, Verizon agreed to pay $1.8 billion for XO Communications’ fiber network business, as well as a local multipoint distribution system and 39 GHz spectrum portfolio held by XO subsidiary Nextlink Wireless. At the time, Verizon said the fiber purchase would cut operating and capital expenses and pegged the operational value at around $1.5 billion.
On May 3, Dish Network attorneys communicated concern to the FCC via a “petition to deny.”
“The two transactions would place Verizon, one of the two largest mobile phone carriers in the nation, in control of resources – specifically XO’s fiber network and Nextlink’s local multipoint distribution service and 39 GHz spectrum – that promise to play central roles in 5G applications and hence will be important to the companies competing against Verizon in the commercial mobile radio service-5G marketplace,” the filing noted. “Just as important, the transactions will eliminate current and potential competition between Verizon and XO in the mobile backhaul (both wireless and fiber), Internet transit, and enterprise and wholesale markets.”
Verizon 5G plans were discussed earlier this month by CFO Fran Shammo during a Q1 earnings call.
“We are committed to being the first U.S. company to rollout 5G wireless technology,” Shammo said, noting that the company is currently engaged testing at “sandboxes” and “innovation centers.” For instance, in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area, Verizon and Nokia in February tested an “extreme broadband” use case employing a precommercial radio system running in the 73 GHz and 28 GHz bands.
“We will evolve this 5G ecosystem rapidly, just like we did with LTE, to ensure an aggressive pace of innovation,” Shammo said, stressing plans for a pilot of fixed wireless 5G in 2017. “This is a fixed wireless, which is really one of the first cases that we see. It’s really not about mobile.”
Shammo also said Verizon is engaged in standardization efforts, which are tracking for 2019 or 2020, as well as working with the FCC on understanding the dynamics of deployment in spectrum bands above 24 GHz.
According to Dish, Verizon’s approach to the regulatory approvals of the transaction “downplays the interrelated nature of the purchase and lease and their significant combined effects. The proposed lease of Nextlink’s LMDS and 39 GHz frequencies to Verizon will give the combined company control over important 5G spectrum. 5G requires dramatically increased amounts of bandwidth to support the service in the form of both traditional backhaul and emerging ‘fronthaul’ architectures.The LMDS frequencies are among the most important next-frontier spectrum for 5G technologies. Stated simply, if the lease arrangement goes forward, licensed millimeter wave spectrum in a critical frequency range will be controlled almost exclusively by Verizon.”